Gary Calderone is the author of The Pilates Path to Health - Body, Mind and Spirit. I knew this book was coming for a long time before it did. I watched as Gary worked through the ups and downs of getting a book published, and I too felt frustrated when there were delays.
It turned out, as things often do, that The Pilates Path to Health came out at a time when there seems to be a very receptive audience for it. Shortly after the book made its debut, Gary and I sat down to talk about it. I decided to ask him mostly about what I think is most unique in The Pilates Path to Health which is how Gary addresses the unity of body, mind and spirit and brings to it his own "21st century perspective."
Gary, as we speak, advance copies of the book have been out for a few weeks. What is the initial response from the Pilates community?
Response has been over the top in a very positive way. I think the title and the cover of the book speak to part of why. The title, The Pilates Path to Health, Body Mind and Spirit, is almost the standing inquiry for all that have come to this work. It's an extension into something greater than the exercises we do. Also, the book was intended to bring information, intelligence, and energy together in a unified field and that is reflected in the design of the cover (see pg. 2).
You introduced some of the ideas in this book in a lecture at a Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) conference a long time ago. You met with a very mixed response. How did that affect you?
Yes, that was a long time ago. The initial response from the audience was favorable. I recall there was some misunderstanding, things that I had done creating a dissonance that may have been unclear and affected others experience. At that time the separation and rejection I perceived was devastating and I became very ill. Now, years later, I have come to know that holding your intention and becoming unstoppable in your heart's conviction can move providence. The book will take its place in the legacy, heritage, and literature about the Pilates paradigm - reflecting an affirmation in the Pilates Community that there is greater purpose and wisdom beyond the exercises we do and teach.
What do you think has changed in the Pilates community mind between then and now to make this book so timely?
A shift in consciousness in step with the times we live in. The need to bridge the gap between how we do Pilates and why we do Pilates creates a distinction toward what is transformational about the work. All of us know there is a shift going on in our world that we have to acknowledge. There is a bridge between matter and spirit that we as a collective are crossing. Perhaps Pilates is a vehicle for that that.
I think you address the body, mind and spirit aspect of Pilates in a balanced way in the book, but the spirit part stands out because it isn't often spoken of as overtly in Pilates. Is that true in your experience?
One of the things that drove me to write this book was that [spiritual acknowledgement] is what was missing. To walk away from a Pilates session and claim that it was a "great workout" and nothing more was inconsistent with the truth for me. Why would anybody spend the amount of money you spend on a Pilates session and not acknowledge that it's beyond a workout?
How we navigate ourselves through the trinity of body, mind, and spirit was originally in Joseph Pilates work. He spoke of a "complete coordination of body, mind and spirit". That is the exploration through which we come out from our particular circumstances into something greater than we thought.
Health is not just the absence of illness, but rather, a state of balance - a unification of body, mind, and spirit. Joe [Pilates] spoke of this wholeness as what was missing in humanity - wholeness as an expression of health. And what is inseparable from this idea of an un-divided union is the spirit emerging, and that one's purpose and passion in life is a shared phenomenon - it participates with, shares in the benefits, and acknowledges others.
As structures and systems that no longer serve humanity continue to break down, people connecting with a cohesive energetic field, an outcome that a Pilates practice can provide, may help to ease the process and progressively create a better world. Many people are realizing that unity and more heartfelt connection are the next spiritual leap for humanity. This spiritual leap for humankind, I and other Pilates practitioners believe, is the intention behind Joe's work. The book is intended to continue the conversation about what is spiritual in an individual's experience of Pilates. Indicators may be a sense of lightness, renewed passion, and identification with ones purpose.